Yesterday and Early this morning the first set of women’s quarter-finals games were played; the match-ups included USA vs. Czechia and Canada vs. Sweden. Team USA and Team Canada are the favorites to make the finals this year, and they are both on track to do just that as they are both advancing to the semi-finals.
Team USA beat Czechia 4-1 after the game was held at 1-1 for the first two periods. Despite only beating Czechia by 3 goals, they had 58 shots to Czechia’s 6 shots on goal. The defense was excellent on team USA’s part, holding team Czechia to single-digit shots. Czechia’s goalie, Klára Peslarová, was incredible, blocking 54 out of 58 shots. She kept her team in the game for two whole periods, and Czechia almost pulled a huge upset. The game was incredibly close until the third period. Czechia opened up the scoring in the first period with Michaela Pejzlova scoring the game’s first goal. However, the USA didn’t let their scoring frustrations stop them. They responded with four unanswered goals; Hilary Knight, Lee Stecklein, Savannah Harmon, and Kendall Coyne Schofield all contributed to the final score.
Canada beat Team Sweden 11-0. Both Sarah Fillier and Brianne Jenner had hat tricks as they absolutely wrecked Sweden. The final shot count was 56-11 in favor of Canada. Besides the six goals from Fillier and Jenner, Jamie Lee Rattray, Natalie Spooner, Emily Clark, Erin Ambrose, and Blyre Turnbull all scored in addition to the dual hat tricks. Canada’s offense is still excellent. Their defense was also on fire as they limited Sweden to only 11 shots and the goaltending held up despite not getting much action. It was a convincing shutout win for team Canada but nothing out of the ordinary for the Canadian women’s team that has been scoring prolifically since the Olympics began.
There have been no upsets in the first few games of the Quarterfinals. Even though Czechia put up a fight, the USA and Canada both demonstrated why they are the favorites to win. However, Czechia and specifically Peslarová should be incredibly proud. They gave Team USA fans a scare and proved how far Women’s Hockey has grown internationally. With time and investment, these international programs will only continue to get stronger, and the days of the dominant USA and Canada might be challenged. But for now, the two superpowers reign supreme as they advance into the semi-finals.